According to a new survey by NPR, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, only one in ten Americans identifies poverty, welfare, or a similar social problem as one of the two top issues government should address.
When asked about it directly, however, a majority of Americans still think poverty is a problem in this country, even as they remain divided on why it's a problem and what should be done about it.
In other key findings, the report found that more than half of those surveyed (64 percent) felt the federal government's definition of poverty — a yearly income of $17,029 for a family of four — was too low. The report also found that approximately half of those surveyed felt that the poor are not doing enough to help themselves out of poverty, while the other half felt that poverty was attributable to circumstances beyond the control of individuals.
The report was based on a nationwide telephone survey in English and Spanish of 1,952 respondents, 18 years of age and older, conducted between January 4 and February 27, 2001. Overall, the sample included 294 respondents having an income below the federal poverty level, 613 respondents with an income between 100 percent and 200 percent of the federal poverty level, and 1,045 respondents with an income more than double the federal poverty level.
To download a summary of the findings, visit: http://www.kff.org/content/2001/3118